Valian Years

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History of Arda
Valian Years
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    Years of the Trees
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Timeline of Arda

A Valian year is a reference to the passage of time in Arda, after the arrival of the Ainur in it and before the Two Trees of Valinor were destroyed by Melkor and Ungoliant. Valian years finally ended with the first rising of the Sun during the First Age.


Unlike other reckonings of time created by J.R.R. Tolkien to set his legendarium, the Valian years did not have a complete and definitive form. In the 1930s and 1940s, Tolkien handled a length of the Valian year fluctuated slightly around a round number of 10 solar years. In the notes to The Annals of Aman, Tolkien stated a single Valian year lasts 1,000 Valian days, defined as the duration of a complete flowering of the Two Trees of Valinor. Each of these Valian days is divided into 12 Valian hours, with each Valian hour having a duration equivalent to 7 solar hours. Thus, a single Valian year would last 84,000 solar hours. As a single solar year is approximately 8,766 hours, it was easy to calculate the equivalence of 9.582 solar years for each Valian year.

However, in the 1950s , J. R. R. Tolkien decided to use a much larger measurement, 144 solar years for each Valian year, and included this concept in his Appendices to The Lord of the Rings as the duration of yén, or Elvish "great year"". This new value extended the time line already established by the author: the duration of the Flight of the Noldor, which was 5 Valian years, went from signifying around 50 solar years to being converted in about 700 solar years. Some studies suggest that these new durations would be too long if applied directly to existing dates, so the new definition should be understood as a new measure that is completely different from the previous one, and therefore not applicable to the dates noted in previous drafts of Tolkien's writings. Other authors are of the opinion that Tolkien describes time as flowing more slowly in Aman, such that a Valian year would "feel" like the passage of a single solar year, despite having a much longer "real" duration.